Gucci’s new fake fur is all but sustainable

Gucci’s fake fur is aggravating pollution and is all but sustainable

Gucci Ghost Mink Fur GG Diamond Coat ($23,535) as seen o Pinterest

Real fur or fake fur? Sustainable or unsustainable fashion? Real fur is very expensive but what is the true cost for our planet when we opt for fake fur?

Gucci announced this October 2017 that it will cease to use real fur and switch to fake fur only. This is hailed by the flag of sustainable measures, much in tune with the Corporate Social Responsibility measures (or CSR for short) of the parent conglomerate Kering.

CEO Bizzarri & creative director Michele announce fake fur at Gucci in 2017. For the love of who?

No doubt, this action is also targeting Millennials, those Eco-conscious consumers who are so lucrative for Gucci and part of the strategy behind its complete revival, headed by the recently-appointed Alessandro Michele.

Business of Fashion reported: “The decision to ban fur was made with creative director Alessandro Michele, emphasized [CEO] Bizzarri. “Fashion has always been about trends and emotions and anticipating the wishes and desires of consumers,” he said. The best creative directors “are able to anticipate, to smell something outside before anybody else. Fashion and modernity go together.”

For animal lovers, vegetarians and vegans of this planet, fake fur might seem like it’s long overdue amongst luxury brands, and a welcome directive. However, I argue that fake fur is highly unsustainable, bad for the planet and – in the long run – helps no animal nor human. Furthermore, when it gets really cold (like in Russia or Canada) you will freeze in your expensive or cheap fake fur jacket. But if you wear real fur, you will not only experience perfect insulation, you might even have a waterproof garment on.

 

inuit-caribou-skin-1

“Inuit elders indicate that Inuit-designed caribou skin clothing is the most effective cold weather clothing for extended periods in severe cold with no means of warming up. Elders continually remind people to bring their skin clothing with them even if they are just going out for a short snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle ride. Accidents happen each year where 1 or 2 people perish from the cold due to being stranded a mile or two from the community when an unusual storm comes up quickly and they are inadequately dressed.” (Oakes et al., 1995)

There is a study by the Canadian military, which was also published in a research journal, which performed a “Comparison of traditional and manufactured cold weather ensembles” putting half of the military men in the latest and most advanced synthetic outerwear and the other half into Inuit-style Caribou fur costumes. If you are keen, you can read the study which concluded:

“Findings indicate that the overall skin temperature, as well as the cheek, thigh, toe, and torso temperatures, remained significantly higher when wearing the caribou skin ensemble compared to changes observed when wearing the military or expedition clothing ensembles.”

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Ok, so fur will keep you warmer, but how is it more sustainable, you may wonderbiodegradable?

The Fur Source has some interesting facts about fur, as published on their site in 2016:

” Genuine fur is natural, renewable, biodegradable and sustainable. The negative environmental impact caused by faux fur and synthetic fibers in general is far greater than that of real fur.”

 

 

Synthetic Fibers are Made from Petrochemicals

Petrochemical plant. The starting point of your fake fur jacket.

Faux fur and most synthetics are made from petrochemicals. They can take more than 3 times as much non-renewable energy to produce as real fur. Like other plastics, these materials do not break down easily and will remain in landfills for centuries. At a time when the true ecological cost of “cheap”, mass-produced, disposable “fast-fashion” is just beginning to be calculated – think millions of tons of poor-quality fibers and short-life garments filling up landfills – the naturally durable and recyclable qualities of fur make more sense than ever!

 

 


Plastic, plastic, everywhere: The world’s oceans are full of discarded trash that degrades and sinks, or drifts ashore at places like Turneffe Atoll in Belize.
Photograph by WaterFrame, Alamy – Image source here.

Real Fur is quickly Biodegradable – Fake fur not a bit

Yes, real fur is biodegradable, like all things made by nature, mother nature happily takes them back into its eco-system. You don’t believe me? Look at this experiment which Truth About Fur (voice of the North American fur trade) conducted.

They burried real fur and fake fur and left it untouched for several months. When they dug it up again, this is what they found:

The Great Fur Burrial: After cleaning. Fake fur on the left, real on the right.

So what does Gucci say about all that? Parent company Kering has developed E P&L monitoring system for their environmental efforts and state:

“INSIGHT

Finishing and dyeing textiles is one of the areas in the supply chain that uses the most water and energy the E P&L revealed.

ACTION

Implement Clean by Design, a programme to improve the efficiency of textile mills through identifying low cost opportunities that save water, energy, fuel and electricity.”

“Corporate Sustainability: Profit, Motive and Intention in Greenwash” from this very interesting article.

When I read this, Greenwashing comes to mind and profits over people. There is no way you ca follow a sustainable and clean design programme when you are in fact, polluting the world with the procurement of petrochemical-based garments. There is however, certainly much marketing savvy involved and an opportunistic jump onto the sustainability band wagon.

Did you know that synthetic fur does not only destroy our planet at the end of its life, but also during its lifetime?

“Washing Faux Fur is Bad for Waterways

While machine washing a faux fur article, it’s estimated that each piece can release as many as 1900 tiny plastic particles into water systems. This can be harmful to the ecosystem in general, negatively affecting the health of plants, animals and people who live off of the waterways.”

Fur is a Byproduct of the Meat Industry or Meat is a Byproduct of the Fur Industry

If you eat meat, or buy any clothing made from real leather wouldn’t you be happy to know that the hide of the animal did not go to waste? Or if it is a farm that trades with furs, wouldn’t you be relieved to know that the meat is eaten? If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you don’t have to eat the meat, but think about how much natural resources are used to produce fake fur and how it pollutes the planet. Sure, you might not choose to wear real or fake fur in that case – and perhaps the products by Scandinavian designer Stine Sandermaan might work for you.

“[…] a report by the European Commission in 2014 found that acrylic, the principal fibre in fake fur and other synthetic fabrics, had the worst environmental impact of nine fibres studied.”

My fur coats are all vintage and their production did not involve the pumping of oil (a great pollutant to the planet) and the use of huge amounts of energy in order to make synthetic fibres.

One of my fur coats is inherited, so it has lasted several generations already and will still be useful for the coming one. When it has finished it’s life-time as a garment, it will become compost which in turn feeds the earth. By polluting the planet less, more animals of our entire eco-system will live a happier life. Above all though, I know I will stay warm this winter and for this I thank the animal who gave me their hide, for we humans are unable to survive naked in most climates.

I value our earth’s traditions, which have been passed down for tens of thousands of years. There is wisdom in what has been done before, there is purpose and integrity.

And thus, I close this post with one of my favourite documentaries: Nanook of the North (also known as Nanook of the North: A Story Of Life and Love In the Actual Arctic) is a 1922 silent documentary film by Robert J. Flaherty.

Watch it here:

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